we leave tomorrow for five days, off to Blighty for work, both of us. without Oscar.

i am excited – any chance to travel is cool by me, especially to historic parts of Britain previously unvisited by my Anglophilish self. even if they do make me work while i’m there.

while we took Oscar with us when we went to England last spring, i’m not entirely sorry he won’t be accompanying us this time around. the flying wasn’t a gay old time, to say the least. i also wasn’t working on that sojourn, just tagging along on long-saved airmiles so O and i could wander the streets of London with our transplanted friend Elise, which was grand. that first trip, though, planted seeds that have recently blossomed into this work trip, and since i’m officially part of the work bit this time around, the whole deal would probably be somewhat less effective and productive with the charming ankle-biter along. i’m still a little amazed (um, read, frantically ill-prepared) about this journey really happening…certainly two trips in a year to England is the sort of thing i fantasized about throughout a childhood when i very literally never went anywhere.

but i have these monsters that live deep in the cellars of my heart. i keep them muzzled most of the time, but the upcoming trip has unleashed their voices. weak voices, but shrill, insistent. they’re nothing special, i assume, these monsters, nothing that any of you who aren’t parents or even just children of parents yourself wouldn’t recognize. and they’re tamer than many…but they scare me. i don’t worry about my boy in the loving, generous care of his grandparents while we’re gone…in that i am blessed. but i fear planes falling out of the sky. i fear terrible, random horrors.

i fear not coming back.

i cringe in shame at the half-finished will kit in our desk drawer, given up because the complications of trying to sort out the proper language for bestowing custodial rights to others on our own. i kick myself for not having made that lawyer’s appointment to clarify precisely those things, now that it is too late to do so. mostly i stick my head in the sand and mutter the quiet litany of “we’ll be back soon, love” over and over in my semi-conscious, willing it to be true because really, the stark truth is that Dave & i want to be here to love and raise our child and we’ve been too chicken to contemplate any other possibility in all its naked, monstrous ugliness.

and yet, you can’t hide from living because there are monsters under your bed, or in your heart. it is as true now as it was when i was six.

in her less touristy and far more courageous way, Whymommy has been staring down those same monsters over the last seven months, since her diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer in June. she’s been fierce with them and their terrible whispers of weakness and statistics. she’s looked them straight in the eye through months of chemo and nausea and pain, and refused to look away. she’s been fierce because she too is unwilling to contemplate any other possibility than being here to see her two little boys grow up.

tomorrow, while we drag our bags to the airport, Whymommy goes to the hospital for a double mastectomy. she has spent nearly the last three weeks counting down to this surgery…day by day, staring the monsters straight in the eye and telling us all why she’s looking forward to an event that in itself would scare the living bejesus out of most of us…and many, many of her reasons come down to two primary, precious things: her boys.

i wish you godspeed in healing, Whymommy, friend, and the continued strength to keep fighting. with each day, you not only beat cancer, but doubt and fear.  and i thank you, for your fierce hope, your reminders these last many days of all the things that make a life rich and joyful and worth living.  for the grace and honesty you’ve shown us all as you face the monsters down.

may Sunday bring us both safely home to the boys we love.